Specsavers has formally welcomed its second intake of graduate optometrists for the year at a two-day induction in Melbourne.

The induction was hosted at Specsavers’ Port Melbourne Support Office from Monday 28 to Tuesday 29 August 2017 and was attended by 34 graduate optometrists, primarily from Deakin University.

The event was facilitated by Head of Professional Recruitment Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Raj Sundarjee, along with members of the ANZ Professional Development team: Head of Graduate Recruitment and Development Adam Buxton, Graduate Optometry Development Manager Sophie Stephan, Professional Development Managers Tina Adel and Claudia Williams, and Graduate Recruitment Managers Sarah Lee and Charlotte Barlow.

Many of the graduates had already experienced a taste of Specsavers culture, having spent up to three weeks in-store prior to the event, however, the induction allowed them to network with their peers and learn how to enhance their clinical effectiveness.

One of the first speakers on the agenda was Miranda East Optometrist and Deakin alumnus Ravi Singh, who shared his personal Specsavers journey with the attendees. Ravi was one of four peer mentors – Deakin alumni at different stages within the Specsavers Graduate Program – who made themselves available across the two days, ready to offer a peer perspective and help the new graduates settle into their new roles.

Ravi Singh relaying his personal Specsavers experience

In addition to the Professional Development team and peer mentors, the new graduates also spent time with some of the ANZ Support Office staff who would be supporting them throughout their Graduate Program journey and beyond, in their continued employment with Specsavers. These included Head of Optometry Dr Ben Ashby, Head of Public Relations Heather Murphy, and Specsavers Optometry Consultant and Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) board member Garry Fitzpatrick, among others.

These Support Office staff members, along with several other speakers, delivered a series of lectures and interactive workshops that combined operational and product training with practical advice on how to be more efficient and effective in the clinic.

The graduates gained an understanding of how to communicate and interact effectively with their store teams and patients, use therapeutics in the Specsavers business model, and solve common clinical problems, such as rechecks.

Australian graduates were given tips on effective utilisation of Medicare item numbers, and gained a summary of the functions of the OBA, as well as how to handle registration, audits and their CPD requirements. The NZ graduates separately received information about NZ regulations and billing practices.

Attendees received a masterclass on paediatric binocular vision, delivered by Specsavers Sunbury Optometry Director Brendan Myers. They also heard about how Specsavers is working to further improve patient outcomes via a glaucoma referral research project with RANZCO and the integration of the Oculo electronic referral system into Specsavers’ practice management system.

“There were a lot of good speakers that were entertaining and provided a lot of good information at the same time,” said Tim Anderson, graduate optometrist at Specsavers Geelong Ryrie Street. “There were a lot of helpful, practical tips to make you a better practitioner that provides better outcomes for patients.”

Brendan Myers delivering a masterclass on paediatrics

Another attendee, Edith Oporek from Specsavers Bentleigh, said her favourite presentations were those on professional communication and how to deal with in-store situations. “The review of the Medicare system was also very useful because it’s quite a complex system to navigate,” she noted.

Throughout the two days, the graduates were encouraged to socialise, and a cocktail event was held at the Garden State Hotel on the Monday night where they could relax, get to know each other better and grow their peer support network.

“Everyone’s going through the same thing, so that it was good to talk it through,” Tim commented.

The cohort also engaged in fun and educational group activities over the course of the induction. To conclude the event, they were asked, in small groups, to deliver presentations summarising the key learnings from some of the induction sessions. The graduates embraced the challenge with humour and creativity, with one group recounting the information in the form of a dating show, and another presenting the main take-away lessons as a TV advertisement.

“The induction made me think through what I’ve done in my first few weeks in-store,” reflected Erin Lam from Specsavers Macarthur. “When I go back, I’ll be able to put all the things I learned into practice. It will be really good to see what I can change.”

Edith added, “The combination of the six-month clinical placement, plus Specsavers’ training days and this induction, along with having a really great team in your store to look after you, has made it easy to transition into employment.”

The second Specsavers Graduate Program cohort for 2017 joins 74 graduate optometrists who were inducted in February earlier this year.

To find out more about the Specsavers Graduate Program, email anz.professionaldevelopment@specsavers.com or check out the range of graduate opportunities currently available.